Ask Amy

Monday, July 19, 2010 at 11:45pm

DEAR AMY: My father passed away this week. There was a funeral and then we sat shiva for several days.

My husband has a sister and two children from a previous marriage (27 and 30). His sister and his son both called to express their condolences, but his daughter did not. No one made the effort to show up to pay their respects.

When my husband's great-aunt died last year, his sister called to ask him to add her name to the flowers we were sending. My husband generously had two separate arrangements sent (one with her name and her daughter's) and, of course, they went to the funeral.

Amy, I am required by my husband to attend his family's functions. He has said, "If you love me, you will do these things for me."

Am I wrong to feel this is a real slap in the face?

My husband has said nothing to them (and doesn't intend to). He thinks it's "no big deal," but I think he should say something.

I would like to skip his family's functions from now on. What do you think?

— Heartsick in Suffolk

DEAR HEARTSICK: Your husband resorts to the nuclear option when asking you to participate in family events. "If you love me ..." is not an appropriate way to start a conversation or make a request. It is emotional blackmail.

By my count, one family member has failed to acknowledge your loss and she has demonstrated this lack of respect for you because there are no adverse consequences.

Your husband is wrong when he says this is "no big deal."

He obviously has no intention of dealing with his daughter, so you should handle it yourself. You tell her, "I was disappointed that you didn't acknowledge my father's death," and then move on.

You should attend family funerals in your husband's family because you understand the meaning of these things. A funeral is no place to play out a marriage dynamic that should best be dealt with in a counselor's office. You and your husband should talk this out.

DEAR AMY: My best friend has been having an affair with a married man since the day he was wed. Hours before his nuptials, he confessed his love for my friend but said he couldn't abandon his fiancée.

My friend and the man claim they care about his wife but continue to sleep together and share explicit emails, texts and photos.

The man is popular at church and considered an all-around exemplary citizen. He also happens to be my boyfriend's brother.

My boyfriend and I are the only ones who know about this affair, and the guilt is increasingly frustrating to us both.

To make things more complicated, the man's wife has become very hostile toward me and implied that I am interested in her husband. My boyfriend and I cannot attend family functions without her sending threatening texts to me afterward.

Despite my feelings of hurt and betrayal, I have kept my friend's affair a secret at her request to protect the man's reputation.

What to do?

— Confused in Cali

DEAR CONFUSED: A person's reputation has no currency unless it is authentic. Essentially, you are lying to protect another lie, and you and your boyfriend (instead of this other couple) are facing the consequences.

You and your boyfriend should exit from this mess by conveying to this couple, "We are tired of keeping your secret and so we won't. We will not cover for you in any way. The next time your wife sends a nasty text accusing me of being interested in you, I'm going to tell her the truth."

DEAR AMY: In reference to the letter from "Wondering Friend" about a 12-year-old boy who kept stuffed animals, we have a grandson who, at age 12, not only had lots of stuffed animals but also carried one around with him everywhere. This drove my husband crazy.

I taught elementary students for 42 years. I told him to leave the boy alone.

The grandson is now a music teacher and a fine young man.

— Barbara

DEAR BARBARA: You are a wise woman. Thank you.

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